I’m not a high literary writer. I luxuriate in genre writing of a different sort. The darker, seedier world of urban fantasy and horror is where I am drawn when I sit down to write. My muse is cruel and capricious, and whispers tales of blood and dark magic to me. That is, however, no reason for poor craftsmanship or sloppy word play.
Luckily for me, I have an editor whose whip is nine-tailed, metal-tipped and wielded with amazing accuracy. Yes, I have Sheila as my editor.
Although I don’t write in the genres she usually reads, Sheila puts up with my work anyway. [Au contraire: he writes short fiction, which I read constantly. -ed.] I assume the reason for this is two-fold: one, she is a masochist, and two, the thought of poor writing makes her twitch, break out in hives, and become nauseous.
I may be wrong – but I don’t think so.
Besides pounding grammar into my thick skull, what does a lover of fine literature have to offer one who wallows in the dirt? Insight. Sheila has seen potential in my writing that I hardly even knew existed.
My current addiction is writing about a paranormal private investigator. I hear you all groaning and complaining that the world doesn’t need another paranormal P.I., but that is what my muse gave me and that is who I love delving into. The character uses magic, and in my world magic is addictive – a drug. It was a small little thing when I first wrote about him; something I knew to be true for the world but didn’t go into detail about.
I finished my first novel involving this character, one Jonathan Alvey, and with trepidation, dutifully sent it to Sheila. What I got back, besides lines and lines of red ink, was a comment that she didn’t care about the herbs Jonathan used in rituals and spells – it wasn’t a cook book – but she would have loved to know more about the magic-as-a-drug angle.
It stopped me cold.
I wondered why I hadn’t seen how important that really was. How could I, the one who was writing it, not see that the real story in these tales about Jonathan was his addiction?
I sat there, staring at that comment, for a good five minutes. When the shock had passed, I opened the document right at the beginning and started a rewrite. I went in and told the story, emphasizing the effect using magic had on my character in all that he did, everyday.
I have since then written another novel and a dozen short stories, all with this new understanding – this awareness of what it is to be Jonathan Alvey, magic user.
My first short story featuring Jonathan is being published on Halloween from Xchyler Publishing, in Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology. I couldn’t have gotten him ready for this leap into public life without Sheila’s guidance and insight.
So this post is less a plug for the anthology and more a ‘thank you’ to Sheila for always being there for me.
R. M. Ridley lives with his wife on a small homestead in Canada, raising chickens and sheep. He has been writing stories, both long and short, for three decades, the themes of which range from the gruesome to the fantastical. As an individual who suffers from severe Bi-polar Disorder, R. M. Ridley is a strong believer in being open about mental health issues, and uses his writing to escape when his thoughts become too wild.
Stalk Raven at your leisure: